Health Bulletin: Vaccines, masks work against delta variant

By Juanita Carnes FNP, Board of Health chair

Chair, Westfield Board of Health

Best wishes to Hope Tremblay as she starts a new chapter in her life. Thank you so much
for giving us the opportunity, many months ago, in dark days of the pandemic, to communicate important COVID-19 information to the people of Westfield. It has been a pleasure to work with you. I am thankful you will continue to write for the paper and have the opportunity to thrive in two of your favorite places.

Welcome Michael Ballway. Your experience speaks volumes. Looking forward to working with you.

This is the 30th column written during the pandemic, and we didn’t start until many months in. I certainly did not expect to be writing about new guidelines at this point. In  fact, we had started to think about using the column to educate and inform on the many, many other important public health issues. Instead, the highly contagious delta variant, in tandem with low vaccination rates, has fueled a surge in infections in 90 percent of the U.S.

CDC has presented new guidelines on Aug. 5. Stating that in-person learning is more
beneficial, the goal is to return all students to school in the fall. CDC recommends:

  • Universal indoor masking by all students, staff, teachers and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccine status
  • Maintain 3 feet distance in the classroom
  • Screening, testing, ventilation, hand washing, respiratory etiquette
  • Stay home when sick and get tested
  • Contact tracing with quarantine and isolation
  • Cleaning and disinfection

In addition, if there is a known exposure, testing 3-5 days after exposure regardless of symptoms is recommended. State and local guidelines will be forthcoming following CDC

Guidelines for the vaccinated continue to change, yet stay the same. Wearing a mask indoors is recommended in areas of high transmission. Wear a mask if you have a weakened immune system or underlying medical condition, someone in your household who is elderly, has a weakened immune system or unvaccinated.

If you are unvaccinated, get vaccinated ASAP! Always wear your mask in public.

All, please remember that a mask only over your mouth is completely useless. It must cover your nose and mouth, fit snugly against the side of your face and be secured with ties or ear loops.

A last note on vaccines: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to give full
approval to the Pfizer COVID vaccine by early September. Full approval will hopefully calm fears of those who have concerns about the safety of the vaccine. Hopefully ,this will increase vaccination rates, leading us toward herd immunity and an end to this pandemic.

Take care of yourself and someone else.


Dedicated health department members have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic, as well as Board of Health members Juanita Carnes, FNP, Margaret Doody, and Stan Strzempko, M.D. 

We keep working to keep you safe.

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